Andreessen Horowitz and 21st Century Fox are among the investors in a $12.6 million funding round in Vrse Inc., a Los Angeles-based maker of software and content for virtual-reality headsets.
Vrse, founded by music director Chris Milk, is also changing its name to Within, according to a statement Thursday. Further details about the Series A funding round werent provided.
With film studios seeking to grab the increasingly fractured attention of audiences and fight stagnating theater attendance, virtual reality is viewed as a potential new standard of cinematic storytelling. Fox has already used VR to create companion pieces to films like Wild and The Martian, with viewers able to explore the settings of those movies. In January, Fox acquired a minority stake in Osterhout Design Group, a San Francisco-based manufacturer of virtual-reality smartglasses.
I believe that virtual reality marks an inflection point, Milk said in a blog post Thursday. That this is much more than the latest gizmo or fad, but the genesis of a fundamentally new technology platform — one that will change how we communicate, connect, and tell stories. VR is just the first manifestation of it.
Milk said he and co-founder Aaron Koblin decided to rename to the company to represent storytelling as a human experience, according to the post on Medium.com.
Last year, Vrse closed a seed round with Andreessen Horowitz and other investors including YouTube co-founder Steve Chen, Raine Ventures, Live Nation Entertainment Inc., agency WME-IMG and Elisabeth Murdochs Freelands Ventures. The Within app launched Thursday on VR headsets Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Earlier this week, Comcast Corp., owner of Universal Pictures, led a $6.8 million investment round for Felix & Paul Studios, a Montreal-based creator of virtual-reality films. Felix & Paul had previously worked on VR projects with Bill Clinton and LeBron James, and was one of the first partners for Facebook Inc.s Oculus virtual-reality division. It was the first time Comcast Ventures, the cable giants investment arm, has funded a company that produces cinematic virtual reality.
Last month, Imax Corp., the operator of large screens in the U.S., announced plans to create virtual-reality experiences for Starbreezes StarVR headset technology.
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